A week ago, the Dodgers were 4.5 games out of first place. They were just swept by the Cardinals, and fans were beginning to write them off.
As of today, LA is riding a five-game winning streak, and currently find themselves a game out of the division lead. Amidst one of the hottest stretches of the season, the Dodgers will welcome the division-leading D-Backs to Chavez Ravine for what looks like the biggest series of the year for LA.
After one of the toughest stretches in all of baseball, the Dodgers finally saw their schedule ease up this past week. They swept a three-game series against San Diego, while traveling to Texas for a quick two-game sweep.
Arizona dropped two of three to Seattle, and then traveled to San Francisco, dropping two of three as well.
It’s been a tale of two offenses over the last week for both ball clubs. During this five-game stretch, the Dodgers are hitting .298, the highest in the national league. At .201, the D-Backs have the lowest average in the national league. LA is also second in the NL in runs scored, where as Arizona is last.
For the Dodgers, a team that relies so heavily on their offense, they’re meeting the D-Backs at the perfect time.
On the year, the D-Backs have beaten the Dodgers in eight of the 12 meetings, with the last meeting coming way back on May 9. LA dropped seven of the first eight, but managed to win three of the last four.
For Thursday’s matchup, Rich Hill (6-4, 3.50 ERA) will square off against Robbie Ray (3-2, 4.73 ERA).
Hill has faced Arizona twice this season, but each start hasn’t been pretty. In his first contest, Hill allowed seven runs over five innings. His next start wasn’t any better, as he allowed five runs in four innings.
Finding the light at the end of the tunnel, Hill is coming off of one of his best starts of the season, where he threw six scoreless innings against San Diego while striking out eight.
Ray hasn’t faced the Dodgers yet this season, but it’s been a struggle for the team every time he takes the mound. After winning his first two starts of the season, Ray has only won one game in his last 15 starts. In his last 10 starts, Arizona has gone 2-8.
On Friday, Hyun-Jin Ryu will get the start. He’s faced the D-Backs twice this season, but both starts were short-lived, as he went a combined five innings in both.
Since returning from the DL, Ryu has looked comfortable out there. Ryu has allowed four runs in 17 innings, and the Dodgers have gone 3-1.
The probables for the D-Backs for Friday through Sunday haven’t been announced, but it looks like Zack Greinke (13-8, 2.93 ERA) will make his third start of the year against his former club. He’s won both games he’s faced LA this year, largely due to 16 runs of support. He hasn’t had his best stuff, allowing six runs in 12 1⁄3 innings, but expect Greinke to bring his A-Game, especially since he’ll be pitching at Dodger Stadium.
Clayton Kershaw (6-5, 2.39 ERA) was pushed back a day, and will get the nod on Saturday. This will be his fourth time facing off against Arizona this year. In three starts, Kershaw has allowed five runs in 19 innings while striking out 24.
Kershaw is coming off his best start of the season, striking out nine in eight innings against the Padres.
The D-Backs look to send Patrick Corbin (10-5, 3.15 ERA) to the mound. Corbin has been lights out against LA this season. He’s allowed two runs in 18 1⁄3 innings, but the D-Backs have dropped two of the three he’s started.
For the series finale, the Dodgers will send rookie Walker Buehler (6-4, 3.02 ERA) to the mound. For the 24-year-old, this will be his first career start versus Arizona.
Arizona will send veteran Clay Buchholz (7-2, 2.07 ERA) to the hill. The 34-year-old hasn’t faced LA this year, but is currently having his best season since 2013.
Ironically, the best pitcher for the Dodgers against Arizona this season has been Pedro Baez. In 7 2⁄3 innings, Baez has yet to allow a run.
Yasmani Grandal has seen the most success at the plate, hitting .344 with two home runs and eight runs scored. Cody Bellinger has found success at well, hitting .320 versus Arizona with two homers and seven RBI.
For LA, this is a series that can determine the rest of the season. After this series, 25 games will remain. If swept, the Dodgers will find themselves five games out, which will be a near impossible feat to overcome. If they win only one, they’ll sit three games out.
Though 25 games is still a lot of time, the Dodgers need to take at least two games, but likely three. If LA takes two games, they’ll sit where they sit now, one game out of first. However, if they’re able to take three, they will walk away from the series in first place.
If things go well, the Dodgers have the potential to leave this series three games up, which would almost certainly be the beginning of their run towards their sixth-straight division title.
With 29 games remaining, this series won’t determine whether or not LA makes the postseason. However, it will determine where LA stands as they enter the final month of the season.
How many games do you think the Dodgers win this series?
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